West Virginia gets new shale rules

Aug. 23, 2011 at 9:41 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- West Virginia announced that it imposed new rules regarding operations in the state's Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit.

Shale gas is one of the most abundant natural resources in the United States. Energy companies use a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to coax natural gas out of shale deposits. Critics of the practice say the chemicals used could get into the ground water and note methane is released during the extraction process.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced that it filed an emergency set of temporary measures regarding Marcellus Shale.

"The emergency rule is intended to help the DEP better regulate the state's growing natural gas industry, which is benefiting from improved horizontal drilling techniques that allow operators to more easily access deep shale gas, such as that found in the Marcellus Shale," the agency said in a statement.

The new rules require operators to submit erosion, sediment and water management plan. Drilling applications must include public advertisements about their activity 30 days prior to work in the state.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in a statement said the new rules, in place for the next 15 months, were needed so West Virginia can take advantage of opportunities from Marcellus Shale.

"I believe this emergency rule is a key first step to accomplishing that goal but there is much work to be done," he said.

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